What is dual language instruction?
In dual language instruction, which is also known as dual immersion instruction, students develop academic skills in their native language, while building skills in a different language. Often, half of a class will consist of non-native English speakers, and the other half will consist of native English speakers. Content is taught and assessed in two languages over an extended period.
Dual language instruction is not always available based on where you live. It really depends on your state’s policies and availability. In addition, it requires commitment from parents, because they often sign their children up from kindergarten through eighth grade or even longer.
What are the benefits of dual language instruction?
When available, effective dual language instruction is proven to lead to greater academic achievement for English Language Learner (ELL) students. In an ever-connected world, dual language instruction prepares students to read, write, and communicate with others around the globe. Students gain a sense of understanding of different cultures and learn the basics of multiple languages. It enhances students’ levels of metalinguistic awareness, which is important in reading instruction. Dual language instruction can also open the door to additional employment opportunities after school.
How does dual language instruction work?
In some dual language programs, lessons focus on one theme or idea each day. Students complete assignments and work with their peers in English and another language. Through this cooperation, students learn from each other. This is extremely beneficial to ELL students (and native English-speaking students as well!) The time spent in each language changes as students grow older. For example, kindergarten students might start out with 90 percent of their lessons in English, and only 10 percent in Spanish. In fifth grade, that might change to 50 percent in each language.
Why does it matter, anyway?
Dual language instruction empowers not only ELL students but also native English-speaking students. Students learn from each other, appreciate different cultures, and grow as people. Whether the student is a native English speaker or an ELL student, they develop and strengthen their skills in two languages.